Viewed today as stylish accessories and tools for the infirm, the walking stick has had a fascinating history. What began as a necessary tool for animal herders and intrepid travelers, the walking stick evolved into a symbol of power and prestige. Rulers throughout the ages, including the luxurious collections of the Ancient Egyptian pharaohs, have wielded staffs and canes. Into the Middle Ages, the church began to use walking sticks to symbolize rank among its clergy. For centuries, wielding a walking stick was associated with power.
It was in the 17th century that the walking stick became “the fashion,” when men and women alike accessorized with canes as a part of their daily attire. In the elegant Victorian era, any groomed, distinguished gentlemen would not traverse the public arena without this stylish accessory. Consequently, the walking stick became a prevailing symbol of taste and class.
As they became more fashionable, designs became more and more elaborate as the stature-hungry nobility clamored for the most distinguishable, ornate walking stick to adorn their finery. These canes featured elaborate enameling and jewel encrusted knobs by specialized jewelers and artisans.
In the mid-19th century, the Industrial Revolution brought an extraordinary development in the realm of walking sticks: the system cane. This type of cane emerged as a reflection of widespread industrialization and technical progress. Also known as “gadget” canes, the system cane held a specific function beyond the mere decorative. Carrying hidden tools and accessories, these treasures served a specific purpose; this often related to the owner’s occupation, with the tools of their trade held inside their cane.
In the art and antiques world, the scientific system cane is enjoying a resurgence in popularity and regard. No longer just the noblest of classes, the system cane caters to nearly anyone. The indigenous designs of these unique pieces range from a complete set of tools for any keen explorer to every medical doctor’s fundamental tools. By concealing the tools for any occupation, such as that of a sharp surveyor or skilled geometer, this type of walking stick brings together both fine craftsmanship and abundant scientific inquiry.
Like the scientific system cane, the antique globe acts as a remarkable gesture towards the field of science and interest in the natural world. Once only available to the strictly aristocratic classes, the globe, much like the cane, speaks to high taste and esteem. Allowing the world to truly be at the palm of one’s hand, the globe not only grants knowledge of the world, but also imaginative travels from the comfort of one’s own home.